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Narcissists Fear Rejection

Updated on March 8, 2018
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The Little Shaman is a spiritual coach and specialist in cluster B personality disorders.

Many people in a relationship of some kind with a narcissistic person find themselves continuously explaining to the narcissist in their lives that they were not rejecting them, that they are not abandoning them, that they are not trying to push them away or get rid of them. Narcissists have a pathological fear of rejection, to the point that they often read it into situations where it doesn't exist. They often accuse loved ones of plotting to get rid of them, of not truly caring and of lying or faking their feelings. This is because they cannot accept that anyone can truly care about them.

Pathologically narcissistic people are generally filled with overwhelming self-hatred and shame for who they are. They truly believe they are human waste and that no one could ever love something so hideous. That's why they create a false self. This is the idealized version of themselves that they wish they could be. Unfortunately, they know that isn't who they are, which means they believe anyone who claims to care about them doesn't really care about them because the person doesn't really know them. The fact that this is their own doing doesn't matter. The fact that they never gave the other person a chance before assuming doesn't matter, either. They feel they have to pretend to be someone else because no one will love them otherwise, and as you know, to the pathologically narcissistic person, feelings are facts. The reason for the false self and subsequent deception is their own self-hatred and inability to accept or even confront themselves as they are, but it's projected outward as other people being hateful, judgmental, unfair and unreasonable.

The long and short of it is that narcissistic people fear rejection from others because ultimately, they reject themselves. When you can't see anything good or lovable about yourself, you will not believe anyone else does, either. This is the essence of the mindset they are locked in. The narcissist's fear of rejection can come out in different ways. It can come out as jealousy, accusations, paranoia, blameshifting and anger. It can also come out as grandiose lies and story telling, bragging, neediness, clinginess, pulling away... even discarding can be and often is the result of the fear of rejection.

Narcissists discard people when they feel the person no longer buys into their false narrative. When someone stops doing this, it is experienced as a betrayal and a rejection by the narcissist because if you really loved them, you should believe they are perfect. Since you don't believe they are perfect, you must not love them. Since you don't love them, you must have seen their hidden hideousness and therefore, it's only a matter of time before you leave them. For the narcissist, rejection is directly tied to the fear of exposure of that disgusting, defective thing that they believe they are. Exposure of this is the ultimate disaster for the narcissist. It represents death in a very literal sense. Narcissists that are exposed without the false self to cushion the blow fear they will die of shame. Being rejected - or feeling rejected - triggers the fear that they've been seen for what they are and their reaction to that is usually pretty ugly. This fear forces them to face what they believe is the truth about themselves, and their entire life is an exercise in trying to deny it.

It's all very convoluted, and it's important to remember that this is all subconscious for the majority of narcissists. It's not something they sit down and plan out. It's just the way their mind functions. It's a series of very immature, primitive defense mechanisms and circumventions that have become this person's whole way of being. Most of them do not realize they are doing it and are unaware there is some other way to function. Maybe for them there isn't. This of course does not excuse the abusive behavior that results from their fear because they can and do control their behavior when they feel they need to, but it does help with understanding something that can be very confusing.

In the end, pathologically narcissistic people are insecure, frightened people trying to carve out an existence in a world that they don't understand and cannot navigate very well. They find the world hostile, unfair and cold, and they feel attacked all the time. Sadly, they are their own worst enemies but are unable to understand that. It's one of the things that keeps people holding on to hope that they can be reached, long after it's become apparent that things are not going to change. Don't let the narcissist's fear become your problem.


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